The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’). Meaning ‘done by hand’. Manual healing methods can be traced back to ancient times. However, it was not until the late 19th century that the chiropractic profession in the United States began to take shape.
Daniel David Palmer is widely credited with giving the first chiropractic adjustment in 1895. While working in his office, Palmer noticed a vertebrae out of position on his janitor’s back. Palmer asked the janitor about it, and was told that one day the janitor heard a pop and woke up without hearing. Palmer performed an adjustment on the janitor, and the next day the janitor woke up with his hearing back!
Chiropractic’s early philosophy was rooted in vitalism, naturalism, magnetism, spiritualism and other constructs that are not amenable to the scientific method, although Palmer tried to merge science and metaphysics.
D.D. Palmer’s student and son, B.J. Palmer, assumed control of the Palmer School in 1906, and promoted professionalism and formal training in chiropractic, expanding enrollment to a peak of above 1,000 students in the early 1920s. Chiropractic leaders of the time often invoked religious imagery, and B.J. seriously considered declaring chiropractic a religion, deciding against this partly to avoid confusion with Christian Science. B.J. also worked to overcome chiropractic’s initial resistance to the use of medical technology, by accepting diagnostic technology such as spinal X-rays (which he called spinography) in 1910.
Chiropractic is a regulated healthcare profession in the United States and has been for more than 100 years. Before being granted a license to practice, doctors of chiropractic (DCs) must meet stringent educational and competency standards set forth by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and individual states. Kansas was the first state to license chiropractic in 1913. Today, all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, all U.S. territories, and more than 40 countries worldwide license chiropractors.